Sunday, October 01, 2006

Tucson 8K

I’ve never run an 8K before and couldn’t have had a better introduction to the distance than I experienced this morning in Tucson. It was a beautiful sunny morning in Tucson with race time temperatures in the mid 60s. The race was run through the campus of the University of Arizona, with only a minimum amount of running on the surface streets surrounding the campus. I certainly wouldn’t call the course hilly, but it wasn’t flat either. According to my Garmin, we went up and down 60’ several times during the race.

Since I’d never raced this distance before, any finish time would automatically be a PR. Therefore, my strategy for this race was simple. I didn’t get all stressed out about pushing myself to the limits; instead, I decided to treat the race as a 5 mile tempo run. With any luck, I might be able to run a 7:15 average pace.

This strategy turned out to be more difficult than I imagined. I lined up 15 feet from the start line amongst a field of 600 people. This put 50 or so people in front of me, which seemed about right. WRONG … what I hadn’t considered was the fact that this race was on the UofA campus, which meant there were beaucoup quantities of 19 to 25 year-old runners in the field. When the gun went off, I quickly accelerated to something south of 7:00/mi and proceeded to get past by what seemed to be half the population of Tucson. After the first ½ mile, the other 7:00+ milers caught up with me as I slowed my pace down to something more reasonable. By the 2nd mile, I had found someone to run with. He seemed rather young (turned out to be 19), but he was about my height and running somewhere close to my 7:15/mi target. We chatted a bit along the 2nd mile and onto to the third. He evidently got tired of talking with me, picked up his pace and pulled steadily away from me.

Right after the 3 mile marker, the course headed into one of the pedestrian tunnels under Speedway (yes there is a street in Tucson named Speedway) and headed into the most northern reaches of the campus. After coming out of the tunnel, the course turned to the east and head up hill for the next ½ mile. I could tell that my pace was slowing; however, I was also passing people. Evidently a few of those speedy folks that were so anxious to get around me on mile one were feeling the effects of the distance. Somehow, I wasn’t. I felt as fresh along mile 4 as I did on mile 1. Controlling my pace on that first mile was paying off big time.

As I neared mile 5, I passed a small child. This kid couldn’t have been 10 years old nor did he stand much taller than 3’6”. Yet, he had managed to outrun me for the better part of 4 miles. His legs were just eating up miles. As I passed him, I congratulated him on a great run (that was from the bottom of my heart … I was extremely impressed) and asked him if he had ever run an 8K before. With more confidence than I could have mustered at that age, he said “Yea, once in Wisconsin”. This kid was not only beating me, but he was also a multi-state racer.

Once I got around the 5 mile marker, I picked up the pace. This usually happens on a tempo run. I’ve got a little more left in the tank and hate to leave anything on the course. I was still passing people as the course headed back into the heart of the campus and the finish line. With less than a quarter mile to go, I spotted my friend from the mile 2. He had slowed down along the way and I was gaining on him quickly. I was only 3 feet behind him as we made the final turn 100m from the finish line, so I pulled over to the left and did my best Jesse Owens imitation. I caught him off guard and got about 2 feet in front of him before he responded. At 19, he had a little more acceleration than I did he edged me out as we crossed the finish line. Oh well … it was fun trying.

Mileage Splits: 7:02, 7:16, 6:55, 7:38, 6:52; Official Gun time: 35:41

After the race, I found fellow Arizona-Bloggers Mike and Angie. Mike hit a significant PR for this event, finishing 7th overall at a blistering 26:53! (for those following at home, this is an average pace of 5:23!). I had a fabulous time talking with both of them. These are great people. They both consented to take their pictures with me which I shamelessly posted below.

I hope your week goes great and that all of you in the Norhern Hemisphere able to enjoy the refreshing fall weather. Keep running.

Mon – Rest Day (1.6 mile walk)
Tue – 8.0 miles, easy, w/ 10x100 strides, 9:07/mi avg pace
Wed – 3.4 miles, hills, w/ 4x400 sprints, 9:30/mi avg pace
Thr – 10.3 miles, easy, 9:10/mi avg pace
Fri - Rest day (and very early AM call to my buddies in France)
Sat - 5.45 miles, easy, 8:44/mi avg pace
Sun – 10.4 miles, 8K race at 7:11/mi avg pace; 3.4 mile warm up, 2.0 mile cool down


Mike and Phil (Mike is the young guy of course)

Angie and Phil


Thomas said...

That's a pretty good time, and it sounds like you were running well within yourself. Well done, and I guess you had lots of fun.

D said...

Nice job Phil. You set the bar high for your next 8K. I'm always impressed by the kids at these races that are able to run so fast.

olga said...

So cool you get to meet fellow bloggers who are also your neighbors:) Good day all around!

angie's pink fuzzy said...

woo hoo! it was a blast to run the race, and so nice to meet you in person.

Feminist Runner said...

Awesome pace! And great job meeting all the bloggers!

At least you passed the kid. Sometimes they pass me

Pat Monahan said...

Nice race. I recently found your blog and I'm slowly reading it. I'm a new runner from Chandler, maybe some day we'll meet.

gotta run, pat

DawnB said...

Great job on the 8k Phil. Nice splits. What can I say about the children in these races. They are dynamic. I've seen it also when the parents run with them and push them a little too hard. But I truly believe for the most part they are out there because they love it and what a great age to start.

Hilda said...

How nice to share a race with bloggers!

Nice week ahead, good luck!

Ann Ewbank said...

We better watch out for that 10 year old! Future Olympian, perhaps?